Create Your Own “Burma-Shave” Sign

November 4, 2010
For several decades motorists enjoyed Burma-Shave signs lining America’s highways. Now you can see them again in a video of Historic Route 66 and can enter a contest to create your own “sign” to promote any cause you’d like.

If you need relationship info, here, my friend, is where to go: Support4Change.comThis past July we took two of our grandsons for a Road Scholar program (it used to be called Intergenerational ElderHostel) near Grand Canyon. Fabulous time, except that I was having some trouble with the heat and decided I would skip the day trip down the Colorado River. Have wanted to do that all my life, but apparently have waited too long and the body objected.

Instead, while everyone else was out having a grand time on the river, I took myself for a ride along Route 66, the “Mother Road” of America. That’s how I was able to greatly enjoy the chance to stop and take as many pictures as I wanted without having someone along who was anxious to get moving. It’s also why I could capture a number of Burma-Shave signs in a video called “Historic Route 66 Between Peach Springs and Seligman, Arizona.”

You can see the video below. But first, in case you don’t know about Burma-Shave signs, a quick note of history can help you appreciate them more. And if you read to the end of this blog post, you’ll understand the Create-Your-Own-Burma-Shave-Sign Contest.

Burma-Shave was a brand of brushless shaving cream with lack-luster sales in 1925 when the son of the company’s owner suggested a campaign of highway signs. Sales took off when people began seeing five or six small signs posted along the highway; just far enough apart so that passing motorists could read a humorous rhyme as they traveled.

Some were designed to simply advertise the value of the product in a clever way. While others caught your attention because they promoted safe driving in a clever way. Always the last sign would say, “Burma-Shave.” Until 1963, when the signs were discontinued, it was fun to figure out the last part of the phrase before you could see it. As super highways became more wide spread and speeds crept up — a sign in the video mentions “a mile a minute” as dangerous — the signs were considered not as effective an advertising gimmick as they had been.

What is interesting is that the signs originally were not posted in New Mexico, Arizona, or Nevada because it was decided there wasn’t enough traffic to justify the cost. They also weren’t posted in Massachusetts, where roadside foliage and high land rentals made them less desirable.

Now, however, the place where you can see newly erected signs is on what is called “Historic Route 66” between Seligman and Kingman, Arizona. The signs (now erected by the American Safety Razor Company) are part of an attempt to bring tourists, and their dollars, to communities bypassed when the interstate was built. Today Seligman, as you can see in the video, makes it a point to emphasize its connection to the old route that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.

After you watch the show, you will find more Burma-Shave signs you may enjoy — and a suggestion.

Even if you don’t watch the video, please read to the bottom of the page for the Create-Your-Own-“Burma-Shave”-Sign Contest.

Hope you enjoyed those Route 66 and Burma Shave signs, although as I said, originally they weren’t in Arizona. But as a child I loved those signs and now, fortunately, the Internet has several sites with many of the slogans for those of us who are nostalgic for the pleasure of wondering what the punch line will be when we would see the red-and-white signs in the distance.

Before telling you about the Create-Your-Own-Burma-Shave-Sign Contest, here are some of the many signs that I have enjoyed in years past.

On curves ahead
Remember, sonny
That rabbit’s foot
Didn’t save
The bunny
Are like a girdle
They find some jobs
They just
Can’t hurdle
The curve
It’s a beautiful car
Wasn’t it?
Dinah doesn’t
Treat him right
But if he’d
Don’t stick your elbow
Out too far
Or it may
Go home
In another car!
His tenor voice
She thought divine
‘Til whiskers scratched
Sweet Adeline
Is he
Or just blind–
This guy who drives
So close behind?
Train approaching
Whistle squealing
Avoid that
Rundown feeling!

Cover of Healing Relationships is an Inside JobReady for the Create-Your-Own-“Burma-Shave”-Sign Contest? Think of a rhyming phrase you could put on four or five lines (as I have done at the beginning of this post). Then add a final line as I did with “” above. You can use these “signs” to promote a place, person, idea, book, website, relationship, cause, or anything at all.

You will note that I’ve waited until after the elections to offer this contest so I won’t have to sort through poems for or against political candidates. We have all seen enough ads to last us a very long time.

I will post all entries that are clean enough to be seen on a public road. Then, as a further inducement to encourage creativity, I will offer a prize of my latest book, Healing Relationships is an Inside Job (in PDF) to the entry randomly selected. CONTEST NOW CLOSED.

Good luck. Have fun.

Did you enjoy this post?
Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


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